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EU targets are realistic if there is the desire, MEP says

21 Mar 2012

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Representatives from the European institutions, academia and industry exchanged their views on the challenges that the automotive industry faces in view of EU emission reduction targets from transport during the conference “EU debate on Electromobility” on 20 March 2012. Viability of the EU’s 2050 targets and ways to achieve them were the key topics discussed.

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Debate participants agreed that cooperation between different actors is key

The debate on EU‘s strategy on electromobility organised by Volvo Car Corporation and held at Autoworld in Brussels addressed a wide variety of challenges and opportunities associated with electric cars. The speakers touched upon issues such as infrastructure, incentives, cost of batteries, standardisation and R&D.

Industry needs realistic and achievable targets

The European Commission’s White Paper on Transport, which states that greenhouse gas emissions from the sector will have to be cut by 60% by 2050, calls also for the use of conventionally fuelled vehicles to be halved by 2030 and then completely phased out by 2050. When asked about the viability of these targets, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Martin Callanan said: “The target probably is realistic if there is the desire to meet it both among industry participants and among Member States.”

Jos Delbeke, Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate responsible for climate change issues said: “When the technology is right, when the economics is right and when the infrastructure is right, it is doable.” Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Corporation, however, highlighted that rather than setting targets for 2050, the industry needs clear vision for the near future.

R&D subsidies and incentives – important drivers

Debate panelists agreed that financial and non-financial incentives for customers, which are already being successfully implemented in several EU countries, will play an important role within the foreseeable future as a means of bridging the gap between conventional and electric cars.

“Pan-European subsidies and incentives are needed to support a successful market penetration,” said Stefan Jacoby. Funding of research and development activities that would cut the price of batteries and make EVs more affordable for consumers has been highlighted by several speakers as a prerequisite for achieving EU’s electromobility targets as well as for maintaining the competitiveness of the European automotive industry.

Difficult challenge for the industry?

The EU’s regulation on CO2 emissions from cars that is foreseen to be reviewed this year is one of the main drivers for the industry to shift to low carbon technologies. “It is important that 95g/km by 2020 is confirmed [in the upcoming revision],” Jos Delbeke said. Both academia and industry, however, agreed that this target is achievable for car manufacturers without the need to invest in electrification of their fleets. “95 gram is the limit you can reach with the current technology,” highlighted Joeri Van Mierlo, Professor at the University of Brussels.  “The costs to achieve lower targets is much lower than anticipated only 3 years ago,” added Jos Dings, Director at Transport & Energy.

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